Anyone remotely within earshot (text-shot?) of me these past two – six?? – months has had to experience the agony of me agonizing over “my future.” That is, the next five years of my future. You could argue that’s not very long, and in the grand scheme of the universe, I concede that it isn’t. But in my mind, right now, a youth in her mid-20s, it’s very much my future, the one, the only. As my stress mounts and the deadline for final decisions approaches, I find myself soothing my tension headaches with the idea that all of my decisions are ultimately arbitrary. I will be similarly happy and unhappy with any decision that I do choose. I will be similarly excited and apprehensive about which path I do take. I would rationally argue that so much of our lives are built by chance encounters, split second actions, and opportunities explained largely by luck. (I mean, can we consider conception for a second here? [Thanks, D].) When it comes to decisions, choices, or paths, I just have to take one.
Arguably, choosing haphazardly and reaping similar benefits and losses with each choice does not apply in every situation. For example, I’d hope that we don’t think about choosing a life partner this way. (I may be young, but I’d hope I’ve gotten that far.) However, I’d say that in my current situation, this is what I’m facing. Every person I’ve consulted on the matter of my future has ended with the final thought: “It’s a good problem to have. You’ll do great with any that you choose.”
Thank you for that. I do appreciate it. I really do. But it doesn’t help. It doesn’t help my predicament, which comes down to making a choice and basing that choice off of something hopefully tangible. Something that I can point to and say, “See, that’s why I made this decision. That’s why I am dealing with these challenges and frustrations that I mightn’t have faced in these other options. Because of this. And this is a good reason.”
I’m coming closer to the conclusion that having that thing won’t be possible. It would probably morph into an excuse rather than a reason rooted in passion or desire. It will be a justification for my inevitable complaints, which will be followed up by, “You shouldn’t be complaining at all. You’re one of the lucky ones, remember?” By now, I run the circles in my head over and over again with a particular deftness.
So I come back to this idea that these decisions are ultimately arbitrary. However, my attempts to accept such an idea bring an overwhelming feeling of resignation. If all decisions are arbitrary, what’s the point? And this is where the road gets dangerous. This is where I teeter on a cliff edge that I’ve worked so hard to avoid in the past year. This is where the motivation stops, and so does the eating, and the sleeping. It’d been so long I thought I’d forgotten where the cliff was. Or that it was gone forever. But it’s been there, in the same familiar place. Luckily, it’s a predictable cycle.
It’s followed by rejection. I have to reject the idea and, in my recesses of my brain, I have to call attention to things that “actually matter” in life. Even if for a time I believe such perception to be an illusion, I also remember that the illusion is still better than the teetering – for now.
So where does this leave me with my decision? I suppose the idea is that once it’s made, there’s no use in going back to the what-ifs. So I just have to take one.
And the cycle starts again.